Catcalling is not okay. By that, I mean whistling and shouting unnecessary sexualized comments at people. It also illustrates serious problems in the way people interact with one another, and it’s time to clarify some things.
Catcalling is harassment, and for many women it happens regularly. That leads people, particularly men, to think that we should be fine with it, or just shrug it off.
I know a lot of people justify catcalling with “Well, maybe you were asking for it.” This is simply untrue, and I know that first-hand.
I was at SFU Surrey campus one Tuesday morning. For those of you who don’t know, the campus is inside a mall, and as I walked down the stairs to the food court to pick up a snack, a group of men entered the mall a good distance behind me. They abruptly became very loud and rowdy, and so I walked a little faster, as I had no interest in what they were saying.
Then they started yelling: “You in the jeans, why you walking so fast? Girl, where are you going?” At this point I realized they were talking to me. I looked back, and because they were pleased to get a reaction out of me, they became even louder, spewing more vulgar comments. No one else in the mall said or did anything.
Because they were pleased to get a reaction out of me, they became even louder, spewing more vulgar comments.
Let’s begin with the fact that catcalling makes most women feel highly uncomfortable, especially when those catcalls comefrom a group. It makes many of us feel the need to walk in the other direction, to cross the road, or to just avoid the harasser at all costs. The fact that someone is making vulgar comments to a person they don’t know leaves women in fear of what could possibly happen if they chose to keep walking down a certain path.
A lot of people will just advise you to ignore them. Well, that’s far easier said than done, as this kind of harassment can be very hard to ignore. If someone is yelling at you from across the street with “Hey girl, nice legs! Well, you could at least say ‘thank you’,” how do you expect me to ignore that? I’ve been singled out in front of everyone, and now I’m being expected to accept a ‘compliment’ that I didn’t want in the first place? What is wrong with you?
I don’t need to be told that I look good in my outfit. I know I look good, and that’s why I put it on. I’m not saying that women don’t like to be complimented, but it must be done in the right way. Why can’t you just politely walk up to me and say that I look nice, or just keep it to yourself? I am in no need of your approval.
Why am I forced to think twice before wearing something that may cause unwanted attention? It just makes me and other women feel highly self-conscious. It’s dehumanizing and verbally abusive.
Dear catcallers, please hold your tongue, because I don’t care what you think.